So we were sitting in shul, spoiling our lunches at Kiddush this past Shabbos when my son turned to me and asked “Tatty, Why are we here?”
Here is what I said.
“I have thought long and hard about this and I don’t think it is very complicated. I think maybe we are here just to teach a kid how to throw the perfect spiral, turn two on a hot shot to 3rd and pick the right esrog.”
“We’re here to spend 5 hours looking for the last piece of chometz that your youngest sister hid, only to find it while looking for Sukkah decorations. Or maybe to watch Zaidy’s face turn purple eating Maror, as Savta reminds him that we are not going to the hospital tonight.”
“We’re here to gaze at your Hollywood star of a little sister give the perfect rendition of “Hashem is here, Hashem is there” in front of a rapt house at the Theater of Arie Crown. Or maybe it’s to catch a quick glance sideways at your mom and big sisters putting Sandy Koufax to shame after you finish the brachos of the Haftorah.”
“I think we are here to cherish the moments that don’t make it to Instagram because the best stuff never does. Like watching Mommy’s face shine with pride as you round 3rd on your first home run or spending an hour at Great Adventure on Chol Hamoed trying to win the Goliath-sized brown bear that makes it home on the roof of the van. We’re here to tell our grandkids about the time we met The Rebbe at 770, and show them the $1 bill that Zaidy had laminated.”
“I don’t know kid, maybe we are here to hug our bestest of friends so hard under the Chuppah, and even harder when they get divorced. We’re here to stand up for our elders, to power, and at moments of silence. We’re here to watch in horror as the rescuers have to keep running towards the bullets and bombs in our synagogues, schools, and pizza stores; then stand shoulder to shoulder with their loved ones when they don’t come home. We’re here to remember the journey that your great-grandparents made to Ellis Island with their ticket number engraved on their arms and stand up to shout NEVER AGAIN. We are here to remember your cousin who was taken from us in Shul 4 years ago today and shout NEVER AGAIN. And we’re here because the streets of heaven have 11 too many angels from Pittsburgh this week and I’m whispering quietly in your ear that always and forever we are here to stand up and shout never again.”
With a quivering voice I asked him “Does that answer your question?”
He answered lovingly “No. I meant why are we still here, Mommy left 20 minutes ago and we are having guests for lunch.”
This was inspired by the recent events in Chicago and Pittsburgh and adapted from a wonderful piece of writing by Rick Reilly called “Funny You Should Ask”.